Endometriosis is where tissue similar to tissue that forms the lining of the womb develops in other parts of the body. It affects primarily young women and causes abdominal pain and infertility. Intestinal endometriosis - where endometriosis appears in the rectum and elsewhere in the intestine - affects a small number of sufferers of the condition.
Symptoms of intestinal endometriosis include:
- Painful bowel motions.
- Cyclical changes in bowel function.
- Constipation / diarrhoea.
Common investigative techniques for other conditions affecting the bowel, such as colonoscopy, CT scans and MRI scans, are rarely able to detect the presence of intestinal endometriosis. The condition is often first diagnosed during surgery.
Intestinal endometriosis presents in the form of nodules of fibrous, hard tissue appearing in the muscle section of the bowel lining, which are difficult to remove. Where symptoms are severe, or where endometriosis is causing infertility, surgery may be required to remove any affected sections of the small bowel, rectum or colon.
The procedure can be performed using either conventional (open) surgery or keyhole (minimally invasive) laparoscopic techniques, although the laparoscopic approach is very complex. A hospital stay of six days is generally required after the procedure and full recovery normally takes around 8 weeks.
- Function of the bowels may be permanently changed.
- Complications, although rare, can be serious.
Your surgeon will be able to advise you fully of the risks associated with your procedure.